Microsoft Philanthropies is a new organization within the company that will be dedicated to helping people around the world meet challenges with, contribute to, and take advantage of, technological innovation, Microsoft Corp. president and chief legal officer Brad Smith announced on Tuesday.
“We’ve challenged ourselves to think holistically about the contribution we can make and ask how can we truly bring to life the promise and potential of technology for everyone,” Smith wrote in a Dec. 15 blog post publicizing the organization’s creation. “Despite global expansion, increased access, and democratization of technology, the benefits of technology are not yet reaching everyone in the world.”
Microsoft Philanthropies will be the company’s way of addressing the widespread poverty, inaccessibility, and lack of education, particularly in STEM disciplines, that feeds this technological inequality, he wrote.
The organization, which will report directly to Smith, will be led by Microsoft’s corporate vice president Mary Snapp, who first joined the company as an attorney in 1988, and general manager Lori Forte Harnick, who will serve as COO.
Like its parent company, Microsoft Philanthropies will divide its efforts into multiple streams, investing cash and technology into digital inclusion programs and partnerships such as the $75 million recently committed to the company’s computer science education program, YouthSpark; mobilizing its employees to solve digital inclusion challenges, such as the company’s Eye Gaze team contributing to ALS research by participating in the ice bucket challenge in 2014; pursuing collaborative partnerships through programs such as Microsoft’s Affordable Access Initiative; and turning its spotlight to root causes of digital exclusion, such as the $10 million raised to help 100 community non-profit organizations by the company’s recent Upgrade Your World campaign.
Smith’s announcement follows in the footsteps of other tech giants creating philanthropic arms, including Mark Zuckerberg, who announced earlier this month that he and wife Priscilla Chan would be giving away 99 per cent of their Facebook shares, currently worth approximately $45 billion, through the newly-created Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates’ Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.